Head Coach Jay Gruden
"[Derek] Carrier did not participate with his ankle and Achilles. Andre Roberts did not participate with his knee. Trenton Robinson did not participate with his hamstring. Perry Riley is going to have surgery on his foot — his fifth metatarsal — and he'll be out for three to six weeks. Limited was Dashon Goldson, knee, hamstring, wrist. [Jason] Hatcher was limited with his knee; [Quinton] Dunbar, finger; [Deshazor] Everett, hamstring; Keenan Robinson, shoulder; and Chris Thompson, shoulder. Everybody else was full."
On losing LB Perry Riley, Jr.:
"Yeah, he was playing well, very well. Last two weeks, he's been outstanding for us and played with a lot of confidence. It's a big loss. Hopefully, you know, obviously [Will] Compton and maybe we get Keenan [Robinson] back hopefully, obviously Mason Foster will have to step up and we might have to bring somebody else up from the practice squad. We'll have to wait and see."
On if LB Mason Foster is ready to play:
On which foot Riley injured:
"I think it was his right foot."
On if he is preparing for the possibility that Foster will start:
"We're preparing as if Mason will start. You know, if Keenan can go, we'll see from there, but Keenan hasn't done a lot at practice. He's been involved a little bit on a limited basis the last few weeks but we'll have to wait and see how he feels tomorrow and go from there."
"He's done a good job in the time that's he's been here. He hasn't had a lot of reps on game day, but out at practice he's gotten a lot of reps. He knows the defense and he's a veteran guy, a physical guy. I think he'll step in and do fine."
On if he expects CB Quinton Dunbar to be available this week:
"Yeah, I think so. That's the plan right now and he's been out there covering a little bit. He's got his finger protected, but it's a finger. He should be all right [laughter]."
On the biggest challenge with Dunbar's position switch:
"I think playing man-to-man and bump-and-run man was pretty easy – well , not easy. It was a lot more comforting to a defensive back. But learning the zones and where to play, the leverage, in-and-out coverages, all the nuances, some of the run fits and tackling obviously is the biggest challenge. You don't know until you put him out there on game day. We don't do any live tackling out here, but that's biggest concern. But he's handled everything pretty well. The mental part of it, learning the defense and then obviously the tackling, but he's done a good job."
On WR DeSean Jackson's impact:
"Well, I think after he scored the first touchdown against the Giants, you can see their safeties backing up a little bit. But that's about it really. They're still going to play their man-to-man coverages. They might cheat the safety a little bit to him, might get some Cover 2 if it's in the team's system that week. But I think defenses are going to play their defenses. I sure they're aware. They might play a different technique with him maybe off a little bit more or try to jam him at line of scrimmage. I just think it's all player-dependent and team-dependent. We'll see how Dallas plays him with [Morris] Claiborne and go from there. You know, every week every team is going to have a different challenge for us. It's up to Kirk [Cousins] to read it and DeSean to beat it."
On LBs Preston Smith and Trent Murphy:
"I think they are progressing. They're still obviously in the progression stage in their career. They're very young. They're still developing in the weight room as men and it's great to have them here. You'd like to have big, long athletes in your building at a young age because they can develop in your weight room and in your program. They have talent. You can see each of them has shown flashes of it. Now it's just a matter of being a little bit more consistent with their get-offs and their pass rushes. Both of them play the run fairly well, which is good and that's a very important part. You know, everybody looks at the sack numbers, but there's a lot of plays that they make in the running game that go unnoticed sometimes, whether it's setting the edge and forcing the back to big fellas or the linebackers. But both of them I think are coming along at a good rate. We expect a lot out of them. They're playing very important positions for us. It's a run-stopping position. Then on third down it's a position where we need the pressure and they're still working on that."
On how QB Kirk Cousins has evolved with the offense when the running game struggles:
"Well, I think he's done good obviously. We'd love to have the balance of the running game because that does take the pressure off of the quarterback. But sometimes a team takes away the run and forces us to throw or sometimes it's score-dependent. We get behind and we have to come back and we're battling not only against the opposing defense but against the clock and we have to try to get chunks of yards. That makes it a lot more difficult for a young quarterback. But overall I think he's handled each situation pretty well, man. He's learning from all of them and, like I said before, playing quarterback in the NFL, it's a week-to-week deal, man. Every week you're going to get something different. You're going to see something different. You're going to have new route concepts. You're going to have new coverages, a different type of pass rush, a different blitz pattern. It's about how he adjusts on a week-to-week basis and how he handles himself is what will determine him from a long-time standpoint. But I love the way he's coming along. I love the way he competes, the way he studies and the way he works."
On the play of the secondary despite the injuries and position changes in the unit:
"You know what? It's been a challenge, and [Defensive Backs Coach] Perry [Fewell] and [Defensive Coordinator] Joe Barry have done an excellent job of catering the game plan to what they have available. And it's been somebody different. Like I've said before — you know, Kyshoen [Jarrett] has played safety and nickel. D-Hall has played safety. He's played corner. [Bashaud] Breeland has played nickel. He's played corner. [Will] Blackmon has played corner, nickel. I mean, they've been all over the place. We've had different safeties starting. Trenton Robinson has started, JJ [Jeron Johnson] has started, D-Gold [Dashon Goldson] started, obviously. It makes it a lot easier for a coordinator to call defenses when the defensive backs know exactly their zones and where they're supposed to be. I think we're to a point now in the season where we feel good about the corners, we feel good about the safeties, we feel good about the nickel and all that stuff so we can be a little bit more diverse in what we do. But, overall, with all the change, I think the coaches have done a great job and the players have done an excellent job of adjusting their game to the position they have to play."
On RB Alfred Morris' performance last Sunday:
"He looked a little bit more decisive. That was his second game where he really closed out the game. He had a couple big runs there in the fourth quarter. We got the ball with 4:51 left to go in the game. The Giants had made a serious push to cut it to six [points]. It was the most important drive we've had of the season to really eat up about four minutes and 30 seconds of that 4:59. Alfred was a big part of that. There was a couple of one- or two-yard gains in there but he was decisive. He was getting the ball back to the line of scrimmage. He was protecting the ball. He got a big first down on a carry to keep the clock running, make the Giants use their timeouts. So I did like his decisiveness in the hole and his ball security again has been outstanding. He was able to carry some tacklers and get the tough extra yard or two, which was good to see."
On how personnel packages will change if TE Derek Carrier is not available on Monday:
"Yeah, it'll be a challenge. We'll wait and see. He's questionable right now. He hasn't taken any reps today or yesterday and he's still pretty sore. But we still have [Je'Ron] Hamm. He's still on our roster right now. He'd have to replace him if Carrier can't go and we'll have to make do with Hamm, and he's done a good job out here in practice."
Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry
On losing LB Perry Riley, Jr.:
"It was kind of like last week with Cully [CB Chris Culliver]. You feel horrible for the player, especially with Perry just the way he has been playing the last three or four weeks. He's really been feeling good and just playing his butt off. Of course we mourn individually for the player. But as a unit, as a group, we've got to move on. Guys have done a good job with that, not flinching, all year long. We've had a number of injuries this year from the beginning of the season until now. Next man will step up and we'll keep moving a million-miles-an-hour forward and not flinch."
On if he has determined which linebacker position Keenan Robinson will play if available Monday:
"No, we haven't talked about that. Keenan is still progressing. I think once we know that Keenan is 100 percent healthy, that might be up for discussion. Keenan did a little bit more today than he did yesterday. I don't think you can make that determination until you know a guy is 100 percent healthy and Keenan isn't 100 percent healthy. He's practiced. He did more this week than he did last week. As I said, he did more today than he did yesterday. But no, not at this point."
On LB Mason Foster:
"He's a pro. I think that's the thing that I've been most impressed with him the five, six, seven weeks or however long he's been here. He came in and went right to work. I've told you guys this before, every guy, whether it's guys that have been here from the start or guys that we've signed, the first thing I tell them is, 'Don't look at yourself as a backup – you're a starter in waiting.' I think every single guy in our room knows that you're always one snap away from being a starter. He's kind of taken that approach and he's worked his butt off. We'll let him go and he'll do a great job."
On if was surprised by the performance of CB Quinton Dunbar last week:
"Maybe a little bit. But again, that's not how I'm wired. I don't work like that. I take the approach where you're a professional football player, you're on the 53-man roster and whether you play one snap or you play 40 snaps, you've got to go out and do your job. Very proud of him, the way he responded, but that's what we expect. He did a great job. It was great for him and it was great for us. But that's what he's paid to do is go out and make plays. And he did a good job."
On the Cowboys' offense without QB Tony Romo:
"Again, this is my theme all the time and I believe this – this is the National Football League. I know No. 9 [Romo] is hurt and is not playing, but No. 16 [QB Matt Cassel] has played a bunch of games. He's had a pretty darn good career. He's got a bunch of supporting cast around him. He's got a great offensive line, he's got No. 88 [WR Dez Bryant], he's got No. 82 [TE Jason Witten], No. 20 [RB Darren McFadden] has played a lot of good football in his career. This is the National Football League. You've got to be ready every week. Just like us, we've got to be ready no matter who that 11 is that breaks the huddle for us. Every play, we've got to be ready to play."
On the secondary's performance despite injuries and position changes in the unit:
"Again, we really don't dwell on it. We don't make a big deal of it. We have been banged up there but again, like I've said, our approach, our theme and our message every single week is, 'Next man up and let's go play.' They've done a great job – [Defensive Backs Coach] Perry Fewell has done a great job, [Defensive Quality Control Coach] Aubrey Pleasant – with that group coaching them and getting them ready, but we take the approach, 'Let's go. This is our 53-man roster. This is the 22 or 23 guys that we're dressing on game day. You 11 in the huddle are the most important 11 guys on the field and when the huddle breaks, do your assignment, do your job and go play.' And for the most part, that group has done that. The linebackers have done it, the D-line has done it because we've had injuries all over the place. We don't flinch. We go play and they've done an outstanding job."
On if there is a specific example of S Dashon Goldson's leadership:
"I wish there was one or two or five or even 10, but there's a thousand. He's just one of those guys that — we've all been around people that we work with that when something needs to be said and we're everyone is kind of saying 'Oh gosh, should I say something?' He is that guy that says it and it's always the right thing. Whether it's something encouraging, whether it's something motivational, whether it's something that he has to put an arm around a guy or get in a guy's face, I think… Why he wears that 'C' on his chest, he is a great captain and does a phenomenal job from the on-the-field-football quarterback of the secondary to on the sidelines to on the practice fields to in the locker room, in the cafeteria, in the weight room. He does a phenomenal job of just like I've said always knowing what to say, when to say it, how to say it and at the right time. He's a true captain."
On what he has learned from his father-in-law, Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli:
"Rod is an amazing guy. He really is. We had great times in Tampa six years working together as assistants, even the two years in Detroit. Rod is one of those guys, very similar to what I just said about Dashon [Goldson], if you guys have ever been around Rod Marinelli, he's one of those guys that he impacts every single person that he's around. I don't know if there was ever a day where I didn't get something from him. And as a young coach, I think that was huge just because you wake up every day and you're excited to go to work because you know you're going to get better. You're going to get a little tidbit and that's what Rod is. We talked on Sunday night and we're not going to talk until after the game. That's kind of our deal. We haven't really played against each other that often since we've not been working together on the same staff. Special man, special coach and, like I've said, it's a unique talent to be able to impact every single person you come in contact with, whether it's a player, whether it's a coach, a coworker, and he has that ability. Special."
On if he looks at the ending of games like the Detroit-Green Bay game:
"Absolutely. That's part of my progression that I kind of go through every single week is you know looking at unique two-minute situations and looking at unique trick plays. Obviously end-of-the-game scenarios, those are things we discuss as a staff. Part of our daily presentation that have with our players on a weekly basis is that we try to create that with them towards the end of the week. You know, we do the last two plays of our walkthrough on Fridays are some kind of end-of-the-game scenario. Our last two plays that we do on Saturday before they leave the building and go to the hotel is always end of the game. At the end of the day, you practice it; it's about execution. And those things [e.g.: Hail Mary touchdowns], any defensive coach, that makes you puke, man [laughter]. I don't mean that negative against them. I'm talking about how it rips your heart out. It rips your gut out because we've all been in those situations and you play your tail off for 59 minutes and 50 seconds or whatever how long it was. To lose a game in that way with the way they played. I didn't get to see a lot of it. Last night was like a Wednesday night for us, but they played their tails off and to lose a game like that, it's devastating. You know, great job of execution by Green Bay, but those are devastating plays. They really are. And it seems like there's one of those at the end of every game every week – Baltimore and Jacksonville a couple of weeks ago with the facemask, the same thing. But those are definitely things that are talked about, are discussed. You a have plan, you have a special situation on your call sheet, but you have to go out and execute the play."
On LB Preston Smith:
"With Preston I think we talked in here I don't how long ago but I made the big point that with any young player it's about consistency. You can't have the ups and downs – you can't have the roller coaster. You can't have a good practice and then a bad practice or a you can't have a good week and then a bad week. Preston is starting to kind of string a few good weeks along. That's what being a great pro is – consistently showing up every single day, being great in meetings, being great in walkthroughs, being great in practice. Because when you get to that point and you figure it out, when you're consistent in every aspect of your life then it shows up on Sundays. He's getting there. I've been proud of him the last couple of weeks. I try not to give him a bunch of praise yet until he is consistent week in and week out. He did well last week and we expect it again from him this week."
On DE Jason Hatcher:
"With Hatch, playing defensive line, obviously, you want the sexy numbers. You want the TFLs [tackles for loss]. You want the sacks. But the biggest thing with a defensive lineman is you want impact and you want harassment, whether that's in the run game, whether that's in the passing game. Hatch on a consistent basis does cause havoc. It might not show up all the time in the stat sheet, which I know is frustrating for him. But as long as he's causing havoc and taking care of things in the middle for us along with the rest of his crew, it's a good thing."